The dirty truth about Jacob Zuma

William Saunderson-Meyer says our now ex-president was cunning, racist and shamelessly corrupt

Character is best gauged under pressure. It’s the stress tests that determine whether the raw material is carbon that may be squeezed into diamond, or mud that at best will become compacted dirt.

A decade ago, at Jacob Zuma’s moment of greatest triumph, when he engineered the “recall” of former president Thabo Mbeki, he was ruthless and vengeful. Subsequently, his track record as democratic South Africa’s fourth president showed him to be cunning, racist and shamelessly corrupt. Now, the manner of his departure provides evidence of not a single trait to mitigate that bleak assessment.

Backed into a corner by his own party, Zuma’s only possible alternatives were impeachment or a resignation forced by a vote of no confidence. His first public response, mid-Wednesday, was a delusional, self-pitying ramble on national television.